It all started on Sunday morning, August 26th, 2018 on a special trip to the Buffalo River for the day. I was excited, as this was my second time in the last three months to be going there and experiencing once again what I call heaven on earth!! Little did I know that this time it would be different, little did I know that at some point that day I would experience being in the moment – in the now – where nothing else matters but those few seconds of life!
I’ve always had a love for the outdoors and for nature. I have always loved to fish and be on the water but somewhere through the years, I feel as though I lost that; I lost myself and who I was and what I like to do. It’s funny how life and how relationships can cause that. This year though, that all changed for me with my first trip to the Buffalo River. I visited Ponca, Arkansas, going hiking at Lost Valley and Hawksbill Crag (also known as Whitaker point). I was captivated. I was in awe and I was in heaven. So my love for nature was refreshed. I came back home and started looking for more local trails, started fishing more than ever and even found a local group in town, Joplin Outdoor Adventures, where I made new friends and started volunteering my time. I feel as though I’ve developed friendships that I know will last a lifetime. It’s funny how we get all wrapped up in life, the city life and technology, we get lost in it if we aren’t careful. It captivates us and takes over, and we forget what is really around us. We forget what has been placed in front of us – our surroundings, that thing called mother nature and how beautiful she is, how refreshing and how good it is for the soul. All of this is what led to the most surreal life experience on a Sunday evening, at The Lost Valley Eden Falls in Ponca, Arkansas.
A group of us went for the day to explore and hike to have fun together and embrace and share the love of nature and all her beauty. We went for a hike at Lost Valley in hopes that just maybe there would be enough rain that Eden Falls would be flowing. Sure enough, we got back there and water was flowing. Three of us in the group decide to hike up to the very top where there is a cave and in the back of this cave, behold there is a waterfall. I knew this waterfall was there but had not been back to it before. We get to the top and start to admire the beauty, even the salamanders that live within, we slowly work our way back towards the waterfall room. Walking, crawling, wiggling our body around the tight spaces in order to get back there. We reach the back and I was just in awe. I was captivated and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was a waterfall in the cave that was unreal.
What happens next no words can truly describe, but I do know it was surreal. I make my way up to the waterfall and stand under it with my head looking up and arms spread out wide, the cold water just pouring on me and overtaking my soul. I was in awe. I was in the moment, nothing in the world mattered for those few seconds. Every worry I had in life, every concern, every heartbreak, all the bad, stress, sadness, depression was just gone. I was truly in the moment. To some, this may sound crazy and bizarre but I truly felt like I had an out of body experience for those few seconds! We spent a few moments there in the cave then made our way out. All I could think of was WOW and what just happened. It made me stop and think about life and what other experiences are out there like this for us to experience. I want to experience that as much as possible.
I say all this to tell everyone to take time to stop the business in life and look at nature and her surroundings, stop and breathe in the air, find a local trail or body of water, take the unbeaten path at times. If you’re driving down the road and you see a body of water, a field of flowers, an overlook, a sunset or even just the night sky, stop everything, pull over and take in the moment. Let it overtake you, let it seize your soul let it have control. Capture it and never let it go. I promise you this: if you do, you will feel something different, something real and refreshing, and possibly something so amazing words truly cannot describe it.